The Atlanta Braves don’t really have to worry about whether they are going to make it to the postseason, but they do have to figure out who is going to play when they get there.
Evan Gattis has had an interesting year, to say the least. The Braves’ catcher/outfielder started the season by hitting four home runs in his first eight games, but hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup due to injuries and inconsistency.
With Jayson Heyward missing time from a broken jaw, Gattis is getting a shot at some more playing time, and he’s been making the most of it. Gattis has hit four home runs and driven in 10 runs in 11 games played since Heyward’s injury on Aug. 21.
Justin Upton has struggled to drive in runs since Heyward went on the disabled list. Upton hasn’t registered an RBI since the day after Heyward went down. Upton had 19 RBIs in April, but has been inconsistent at driving runs in since then. Freddie Freeman leads the team with 98 RBIs, with Upton a distant second with 64 RBIs.
They’re not getting much help from their two highest-paid players either. Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton make a combined $26 million dollars this season, which is a lopsided figure when placed next to their .186 combined batting average. Both players have the ability to hit for power, but 2013 has not been their year.
Gattis is making the league minimum this year, but ranks fourth on the team in home runs and RBIs. His .811 OPS is fifth best on the Braves, but he’s being paid like a bench-warmer.
He hasn’t been striking out much either, especially considering his ferocious swing. The Braves have the second-highest strikeout total in the MLB, but Gattis has just 68 strikeouts in 89 games played.
Gattis can provide the power if he can continue to stay hot. He drove in two more runs Thursday against the Miami Marlins by smoking the first pitch of a bases loaded at-bat down the third base line for a double. If he continues to pose a threat at the plate, there is little doubt he will be a factor in the postseason.